Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of Branding. Branding is one of the major strategic games of the marketing practitioners, through which they create company’s bonding with the customers that attract customers, retain them, develop loyalty among them, and attract best quality manpower and investors.
When we talk about “Brand” what we really mean is Brand image -“a person’s collected experiences of a company, product or service with a certain name, company’s audio and visual communications, and what other people say about the company.” Say that you particularly like a certain kind of toothpaste Brand. You like the freshness after using this toothpaste, you think your teeth look brighter after using this paste, you think it is healthier than the competing Brands and you think the overall quality is pretty Okay. That would be a strong Brand for you. We need to remember that the ultimate objective of Branding exercise is to gain the trust of the customer. In plain and simple words, an essence of Branding is creating trust. Trust is gained from a customer when you do what you claim to do. This builds your reputation and, therefore, your customers trust in you. In case of difference between customer’s expectation and your delivery, it creates dissatisfaction, eventually creating a negative Branding.
Branding is becoming more important in the market today, with global Brands creating severe competition for local Brands, and the pace of change in the information age meaning product life cycles are shortening dramatically, almost in all product classes such as FMCG, durables, services and industrial products. Here is an attempt to explain how does the Branding actually work and various approaches for Branding the product or business.
In general a business can use two generic marketing strategies namely push and pull strategies. In push strategy a company emphasizes more on managing sales function to generate sales, and this approach does not focus much on creating Brand equity. In contrary the Pull marketing strategy lays emphasis on creating a Brand that can perform for the company on long term. Of course most often it is the combination of these two strategies in appropriate proportion that works for the company. According to Mr. N.S.Sathish , Director (Marketing), colour televisions, ONIDA, “around 40% of serious customers visit show rooms undecided on the Brand they want to buy. A company with good push marketing strategies has the scope to market its products to almost half of the market that visits showrooms undecided on the Brand they want to buy. Only good Branding can ensure to block the other half of the market that has a customers with pre-decided Brand in their minds and the scope of sales take a back seat here ”.
A good Branding makes the customers gain the sense of belongingness with the Brand and this psychological involvement would deter the customers from switching to other Brands. A good Brand creates a secured customer base for the company that is willing to put some additional efforts for acquiring the Brand of their choice. In fact this secured customer base advocates the secondary level communication or word of mouth communication in favour of the Brand. This aspect of Branding helps the company to disseminate the promotional communication from a relatively smaller set of primary audience to a larger section of secondary audience thereby increasing the company’s sales prospects.
Other main feature of having good Brand equity is that it reduces the price sensitiveness of the customer towards the Brand. This aspect of Branding makes the sales of the Brand independent of the incidental increase of price. That means customers are willing to pay more for the Brand, which they perceive to be more value packed. As a result the Brand can fetch more price than the competing Brands.
Another benefit of the Branding which often goes unnoticed is the fact that it will make sales process easier. In fact good Brand building is referred to as primary sales and selling function as the secondary sales. Secondary sales cannot be effective and efficient with out the effective Branding. This perspective of analysis also makes it clear that a good Brand established in the market can also reduce the selling expenses to a great extent. According to Mr. Vivekanand, Director, sales, Hitachi Data Systems, “ having strong Branding in the market place will play a great role in lead generation and subsequent conversion in to sales”. He continues “good Branding also makes the selling process easier by getting an easy entry to the customers and initial introduction would be walk through”.
Apart from the marketing perspective, the strategic Branding task has financial and HR perspectives which are discussed here onwards. Many times we have noticed companies who are actually industrial suppliers and have no direct link with the ultimate end users, still give print and television commercials targeted to the end users. Here the effort is to build the Brand for the purpose other than marketing. Here the attempt is to build the overall corporate Branding with an eventual objective to prepare the market for equity or debenture investment.
Now the next important question that follows is how do we build a strong Brand. The frequent answer for this question is by effective advertising and thoughtful positioning strategies. Though the communication strategies of the company helps to great extent in the process of building Brand, one should keep it in mind that the Brand building is a long term process and what builds a strong Brand is the experience the customer is going to have in pre-purchase, during purchase and post purchase phases. This means the Brand building lies more in the company’s practice in offering good services right from the selling stage and until the post sales services obviously through offering the quality of service or product which creates a psychological realization that is more than the customer’s expectation. That is, if the customer gets delighted by getting at least what he had expected or more than that, then gradually it builds a healthy Brand in the mind of the customer. Perhaps the most appropriate process for building an effective Brand is the blend of following activities:
Through building relationships
Delivering your Brand consistently through customer relationships is an important factor in building a Brand. One of the ideal avenues to build a good Brand is by ensuring the possible best to deliver across all access points with the customers like advertising, sales, public relations, publicity, quality products and services, delivery channels etc. Now a days Internet is playing a very important role in communicating with the customers but for companies to make use of the Internet as a media for Brand building is still few years away.
Make it an Experience
Articulate your Brand as a compelling customer experience rather than just a commodity or service. Think about how you can give your customers a good experience during all interactions the customer is likely to be engaged with the company.
Decision on visual and audio considerations
Decide on one “visual identity”, one “voice”, and one “colour” for all your promotional materials, and advertising. Stay consistent with your choice of typefaces, colors, logo, tag line, and even paper type when designing any promotional materials. There are many leading Brands, which have been identified with some particular colours and back ground music. You can recognize the Brands like ICICI bank, Reliance phones, Karnataka bank etc with the particular colours they have adopted. Apart from this, the punch lines, trademarks, any other symbols also play an important role in building a strong Brand for the company.